It’s been a while since I last blogged on my site, but as with everything else in life, life itself happens and takes us to different paths and directions. As I was going through my list of ideas and class activities to write about, I realized I have never written about Experiments with Google which I have used in numerous occasions, especially during the last three years of online teaching. To be honest, I first came across Experiments with Google some years ago while experimenting with sound effects for a music project I was working on while at the same time I was going through their Google Arts and Culture main page for a class project. Although I’ve often invited my passion for art in the classroom before, I was excited to discover I could introduce my learners to further notions of art forms and combine different types of media to reinvent in a sense classic classroom activities. There’s a very long list of different experiments, I’ve decided however to focus on the ones I’ve used the most /I consider more versatile as they can be used in many different contexts and for many different activities. I’ve grouped the activities starting with the name of the experiment and then mentioning the activity types/aspects of language I’ve used it for. In some cases I also include honorary mentions of other experiments that can be used complementary or as an extension to the one mentioned.
- Climate Change Impact Filter: Google Experiments offers a wide host of environmentally-dedicated apps, such as the amazing Climate Change Impact Filter which explores the impact global warming can have on plant and animal life. Apart from promoting environmental awareness and working on topic vocabulary in the field of environmental issues/sustainability, I have used the experiment to introduce: a) comparisons in the form of asking students to deliver class presentations in which they compare and contrast how different species will be affected and explain the reasons why, b) future tenses for predictions/assumptions regarding which of the anticipated impacts learners see as most likely to happen and c) unreal (type 2) conditionals and wishes about the present/future mostly in the form of suggesting solutions/measures to be taken to protect the species mentioned. Honorary Mention: Voices for Change: An excellent way of introducing students to the 17 UN Goals while they practise their reading and vocabulary skills too.
- Art Emotions Map: One of my most favourite experiments as it combines my love for language with art. As its name suggests, Art Emotions Map is an interactive map/landscape in which paintings are grouped together according to the feelings people have associated with them. It’s ideal to use if you want to introduce learners to vocabulary on the topic of feelings, mostly evaluative/emotive adjectives and related nouns, but also for extended Speaking practice by asking students to describe and compare different paintings and how they feel when looking at them. This can be further extended by asking learners how similar/different their feelings are to the ones mentioned on the map. Honorary Mentions: Art Coloring Book (perfect for teaching colours to younger learners and practising describing paintings/emotions associated with colours with older students), Play a Kandinsky (to introduce learners to the topic of synesthesia and practise “what if” statements as well as modal verbs of deduction).
- In Rhythm with Nature: Apart from its eye-catching design with its hauntingly beautiful journey through nature, the experiment gives you the option to choose between different plants which synchronise to the breathing pattern offered making it ideal for screen relaxation. This is a site I have used to promote mindfulness and relieve student stress, especially during class routines (e.g. after instructions before a class exam for instance) or for reflection purposes at the end of a lesson usually along with KWL charts.
- Poem Portraits: Poem Portraits combines poetry with AI and is based on the idea that users write one word which is included in a two-line poem generated by the experiment. This is not an experiment I’ve used on its own per se, but mostly as an introduction to (collective) poetry writing along with Typatone (not a Google Experiment). It is, however, an excellent way of introducing learners to alternative forms of poetry, such as one or six word poetry.
- Guess the Line: A great online alternative to Pictionary that can be used to practise adjectives or modal verbs of deduction (can’t /must/ may/might). What makes it perfect is that the objects/creatures users are asked to create are often unconventional so it really gets learners thinking how they can be creative while attempting to draw a square flower or a horizontal cat for instance!
- What came first: Possibly the one I’ve used the most! It’s a game in which users have to guess which of the two events shown on screen happened first in the past. It’s a great way of presenting and practising past tenses, but can also be used for class projects aiming to make students more aware of key events in different fields such as music or film. Honorary Mention: Geo Artwork: Perfect to practise Passive Voice as well as speculative language. It can also be used for class projects on the origins of different types of artwork.
- Where is Hopper? / Hopper the Explorer: I’ve used both experiments to practise digital storytelling and they are perfect if you’ve introduced learners to stories with multiple endings. In the case of Hopper the Explorer, learners choose different destinations to describe a sequence of actions or to represent different stages in their story and the development of events (for e.g. the stage of complication might involve Hopper’s visit to a new destination). Hopper the Explorer is also ideal for Speaking practice, especially in relation to picture descriptions often featured in B1/B2 level exams. Honorary Mention: From a picture to thousand stories (for research projects on different writers and their work)